Thoughts on the way home.

I woke up at the St. Pancras Hotel in London this morning at 5 AM with a great sense of quiet and thankfulness. Normally when I wake up early it is because of some imagined fear or excitement for the day ahead. This was different, a sense of calmness kept me awake. It had been a difficult week at the funeral of a dear friend. We had a layover in London on the way home and opted to go into town rather than stay at the airport. Last night we visited with a friend, strolled through Covent Garden, already festooned … Continue reading Thoughts on the way home.

Isle of Man

This is the first post from the Isle of Man.  It has several shots from around the island, including the route of the TT motorcycle race.  Other posts will deal with the Manx Steam Railroad, Douglas, Peel, Castletown and Port Erin.       There‘s a sign when you leave the arrivals area of the Isle of Man Airport that reads “Travelers who are not citizens of the EU or the EEA and are arriving from the Republic of Ireland are required to register with the Isle of Man immigration and passport office.” It gives an address in Douglas, the … Continue reading Isle of Man


Tallinn’s tourism agency touts the “best-preserved medieval center in all of Europe.” It’s not completely medieval, and that makes it interesting.  Architecture in the old town runs from medieval through baroque and Russian empire style (the Tsar built a very “Alexander Nevsky” cathedral and an opera house in the old town) to Art Nouveau. The mix is what makes the Tallinn old town interesting. Tallinn was founded by Danes (In Estonian, Tallinn means “Danish Town. “)  German knights bought Tallinn from them and pretty soon Tallinn (Germans called it “Reval”) was in the Hanseatic League, acting as middleman between the … Continue reading Tallinn

Riga Nouveau

We arrived in Riga Monday night and walked through a snowy city. By Tuesday it had warmed up, morning fog hid the steeple tops and we walked through slush. The embassy district of Riga has one of the best collections of Art Nouveau buildings in Europe, built for the German merchants who ran the economic life of Riga around 1900. Michael Eisenstein, father of the Soviet filmmaker, was the architect of many of them. In Riga it’s easy to see Art Nouveau as the bridge between the empire style and art deco.  The district centers around Alberta St.  The district … Continue reading Riga Nouveau

Wooden Tallinn, Estonia.

In Tallinn, there are architectural rings.  Right outside the old town is the “new town” a mix of modern steel and glass and Stalinist “wedding cake” architecture. Beyond that are working class Tallinn neighborhoods that consist of almost all old wooden buildings, single family dwellings, shops, workshops, and wooden apartment houses. Many have carpenter Gothic touches and are painted in different colors. The most famous of these neighborhoods is Kalamaja.  I hope that at least some of these neighborhoods can be “protected,” as the old town from the modern “new town” encroachments.  More than the German styled Hanseatic League old … Continue reading Wooden Tallinn, Estonia.

Greencastle, Ireland (the old home place.)

  In the summer of 1993 Suzi and I took my mother to Ireland to celebrate her 80th birthday.  Her father was born, raised, and ran away to sea from Greencastle in Donegal; at the mouth of Lough Foyle, the choke point leading to the port of Londonderry.  Her actual birthday was in September and on her birthday I sent her a letter recounting some of the stories we heard in Ireland.  Many of the stories are the ones I grew up with, but we heard them from a different perspective and told a century after they happened. My grandfather … Continue reading Greencastle, Ireland (the old home place.)